Presented on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at the Barn at Quarry Farm as part of the Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium "American Literary History and Economics in the New Gilded Age."
Most participants in this seminar will recognize that I have inverted the terms of one of Howell's most enduring social essays, "The Man of Letters as a Man of Business," first published in 1893 - because I intend to come at some of the issues it raises from the other way around: to look at Howell's professional career less in terms of artistry than in terms of his income. And, more specifically, in terms of his attitude toward (and anxieties about) money. With a rightful claim to be a son of the frontier (like Twain), Howells had every reason to maintain at least some faith in the individualistic American creed of the self-made-man. Yet, over the span of his career, he felt increasing pressure to incorporate himself into the new systems of large-scale organization that were transforming the literary marketplace of the late nineteenth century. This paper will examine the material underpinnings of that transformation, as they are reflected in Howell's literary situation.
Michael Anesko is Professor of English & American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He has published extensively on Anglo-American literary culture, including five books that have established critical benchmarks in their respective fields: "Friction with the Market": Henry James and the Profession of Authorship (Oxford, 1986); Letters, Fictions, Lives: Henry James and William Dean Howells (Oxford, 1997); The French Face of Nathaniel Hawthorne: Monsieur de l'Aubepine and His Second Empire Critics (Ohio State, 2011); Monopolizing the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship (Stanford, 2012); and most recently, Generous Mistakes: Incidents of Error in Henry James (Oxford, 2017). He is the General Editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Complete Fiction of Henry James and had prepared a new authoritative text of The Portrait of a Lady (2016) for that series. He is also now Co-General Editor of The Complete Letters of Henry James, published by the University of Nebraska Press.